Yeah, nah... I'm not ok07/07/2020
I don't think I've ever written a blog post that wasn't somewhat technical... 🤔
I've been hesitating to share some of my more personal thoughts but, in the spirit of transparency and honesty, I thought maybe I should.
The thing is...
I'm not really ok.
I notice I've been building quite a few side projects in the past weeks and it feels like I'm trying to hold onto something so I don't drown... It's the only thing that makes me feel good.
When I build my side projects, I have complete freedom over what I decide to explore. I pick the idea, the tech stack, how far I wanna take it, etc; and, in my life right now, this feeling of being in my own world where I get to decide what happens or not, helps me feel better.
You could think it's all due to the global pandemic going on, and it's definitely had an impact, but I also:
- just moved to Amsterdam by myself from the other side of the world
- know only 1 person here
- started a new job
- don't have a permanent house
- am working fully remote for the 1st time
Of course, I'm not saying my life is the worst, I'm only saying that all these things added up are... a lot to deal with on my own.
Needless to say, I expected my year to be VERY different. I knew moving by myself would be difficult but it's not my 1st time so I had planned a few things to look forward to when things would get too hard; I had some conference talks scheduled in different countries I was excited to go to, I wanted to go visit some friends around Europe, go back see my friends in Australia in a few months, etc.
But now, I find myself with no escape; other than my projects.
I'm talking about "escape" because moving to a new city is hard. It can feel very lonely at times, it's unsettling, you're not always sure you made the right decision and when things get tough, you're mostly on your own.
You feel this pressure to make friends, go out and do things to start your new life, but it doesn't always work that way, even when we're all allowed to gather in pubs and bars.
Adult friendships are weird and hard. When you move somewhere, you need people more than they need you. You're the one who just moved, other people already have their habits and don't necessarily want to make space for you. If they do make space for you (thanks Rafa, if you're reading this ❤️), you also don't wanna feel like a parasite that relies on them too much.
And then also comes the guilt. How dare I complain about struggling when I am lucky enough to live in Amsterdam, work in tech, be healthy, etc...
I like to believe I'm pretty self-aware, I work on it a lot, and I know that I'm priviledged in many ways, but life's still hard.
In this kind of situation, I get into an unhealthy habit of focusing on work... a lot. Too much.
With code, you can control the outcome; you pick an issue to work on, you implement it, merge it, done. Onto the next one. It feels like progress.
So naturally, since moving here, I've been using my job as a way to avoid thinking about my current situation, so I've regularly been working on average 12h/day. And if I'm not working, I'm preparing a talk for a conference, or giving the talks, or doing research for my next side project, or trying to keep up with emails and DMs, etc. I do not recommend but I know I've been doing it because facing the fact that I'm having a hard time scared me more. You know, if I don't think about it, it's not THAT real...
That kinda worked for a while, until last week.
Using your job as an escape doesn't work anymore when that job turns out to have its own issues. All of a sudden, you got nothing left.
And I... COMPLETELY broke down... in front of my whole team... on a Zoom call... that was recorded...
(A bit like that 👇🏻, but way less pretty and without the ice cream.)
I'm not ashamed of crying, but I don't think people could have understood all the things that piled up to get me to this point. And I'm not gonna blame anybody for not understanding. I don't think you can get it if you haven't been through something similar. I didn't even expect it myself, I thought I'd be fine.
To be honest, I'm not fully recovered. I feel this weird sadness that's hovering and I'm not really used to it. I'm usually a pretty hopeful person, very easily excited about random stuff (the other day, I discovered you could watch live cams of Sea Otters in California, how cool is that??!!! Love it!😂), but I can feel that something's changed in the past few days.
I'll be fine though, just not right now, and that's ok.
A part of me knows I should take days off but... for what? To stay between the walls of my apartment and have more time to contemplate the current state of my life? Maybe not a good idea right now... If I was back home 🇦🇺 I'd rent a car, go on a road trip, hike, spend time at my favorite lookouts (check this out 😍), but I'm not home.
The next few months are gonna be tough too for several reasons. I know a few things that are coming my way and it's gonna be a lot to deal with... on top of everything.
Definitely not downhill from here.
All this to say that building projects is my way of trying to find and share some kind of joy when things are sh*t.
Some people do that with playing games, cooking, reading, etc. To me, the excitement I get when I learn new things and manage to hack something I wasn't sure was possible, is uncomparable. When sharing it, I hope to bring the same kind of excitement to other people.
On Twitter, people reveal their worst self sometimes (especially lately actually), and it can really crush you.
On the other hand, when I stumble upon people tweeting about a cool thing they built or sharing their achievements, it really makes my day.
That kind of excitement is contagious and I love it.
I guess that's all I wanted to say. I don't want no pity party, I just wanted to be open about my own struggles and be honest with myself.
I know most people are having a hard time at the moment and there's no "good" or "bad" way of dealing with it, there's only whatever works for you 💜.
Sending you all the hugs.